Now that enough time has passed and I can be more objective I am going to tell the story of when we went to move home for good. Oh and it's a good one......
When the Army first gave Chaz a retirement date of January 9, we laughed at it. You see no one in the Army does any real work until mid-January. We knew that we would not be able to see everyone we had to see and be out of DC by then. You see no one came back to work until January 7. So someone thought we could get Chaz out of the Army in 48 hours. (Once again this is one of those automated things that people really don't think about. They get a date through it on the form and pass it down.) We brought this to WTB command's attention and Chaz's 10 day extension was granted without any problems. We knew we could get everything done within that time frame.
Before we went home to Tennessee for Christmas, Chaz went around and did everything on the insanely long, but understandably so checklist. He really only needed one signature from housing to get out of there and we needed to make and provide them with our exit plan. Before we left the plan was to take as much on the plane as we could. Thanks to Veterans Airlift Command we were able to do that. Next we would drive my vehicle back up on January 2 so then we could drive everything back. Once we arrived back in DC we would mail a bunch of stuff home. Lastly bring up our friends to help us drive back. The plan seemed great and we were told by the WTB we would get postage for our mailing and this was all no big deal.
Now we decided months prior to save Chaz's final retirement move for when we move into the new house. It seemed like a waste of a move to us to move our personal effects from the apartment in Maryland to our home in Tennessee. It made more sense to save that move and move our things from the old house to the new house. The only things we had in Maryland were things like clothes and personal effects. (Please note we were being quite smart and responsible here.)
We arrive in DC on January 2 and began packing and that's when everything began going down hill. We were told by this person that we had to paint the walls and clean the carpet in order to be cleared from our apartment. Then they also told us that we had to completely vacate the apartment in order for it to be cleared. So Chaz was being told to put us in a hotel so they could inspect the apartment and we would stay in said hotel until it was time to leave. Of course the hotel was on our dime and they couldn't give us an inspection date. And if we didn't want to paint the apartment or clean the carpets that was fine but it would cost us $250-600 to have it done and it was our responsibility to do so. But if you lived on the base, you simply moved out and left your keys with someone.
Next we find out that Chaz is being denied postage because he "no longer has the prospect of longevity with the US Army." You can safely assume this is where I lost it. So yes I took a picture of my husband in his wheelchair painting the walls and I sent it to some people high in the food chain who care a lot about our soldiers and their welfare. I also have pictures of my husband cleaning the apartment. Well the picture gets to the people who care and those people made the people who are supposed to care call us to ask questions about what was going on. I was assured we would get postage, that we didn't have to paint the walls and that we'd have help moving. This was during the weekend by the way.
Monday morning we had a visit from a Platoon Sargent, who had never spoken more than three words to me, and only a few more to Chaz. Yes you can assume he was not happy and tried to scold my hubby like a 2 year old because "he jumped chain of command." I stopped him and told him to point his finger at my face. He tried so very hard to make me understand this is how the Army works. We had a very nice chat about policies, laws, regulations and tenants-in-common relationships. He tried to school me on the barracks policies, but was stuck when I pointed out the oxymorons that he himself was running himself around in. Then asked him "How many times have you moved yourself?" He answered. Then I asked, "How many times did you move your family without your legs?" He just looked at me. There's really not a lot you can say to that, huh? It is beyond time for the people who are supposed to help to stop and think about what this is all like. We are not charity cases, but we do need a little help and compassion every once in a while.
The LT Colonel who retired Chaz came in after this Sargent. We really like the Colonel, he gets it. He asked what we needed and we told him. He brought the housing people with him and they gave Chaz the last signature he needed so he could officially get out of the Army. When everyone left we were told that all would be handled. Let me fill you in on that one.
We were still denied postage. So I contacted Wounded Warrior Project to see about a U-Haul (they have a partnership with them), but I was informed I had to give them two weeks notice. Of course I wish I had two weeks notice, so no help there. Operation Ward 57 stepped up to cover the U-Hual, but we ended up not using it. The Navy ended up helping us with our goods. The Navy took our items that we were going to ship home and put it in storage. Once we use our retirement move they will send all of those goods to the new house. Yes I teared up at this great news. And I couldn't make eye contact with the Platoon Sargent when he said he knew about that option the entire time (Um, hello, and you didn't share this why?). WTB was supposed to send people to help us load our cars. But when that day came only that awesome Colonel and someone else's squad leader were the only ones who showed up. But we got it done and I am so glad it was that Colonel who came. I don't really know that squad leader, but he was helpful to us and I appreciate him helping us. We were able to knock it out in just a few hours. About the time we finished the cars, the movers came for the storage. Our friends came to help with the final cleaning and moving. Our friends arrived from the airport and we were able to drive out just after lunch time. It all worked out in the end, but could have been a lot smoother. I again want to point out that so many have come before us. That fact breaks my heart.
In short we moved out of DC thanks to the Navy, a great Colonel and a few non-profits and a lot of great friends who truly care. People ask me why do our veterans feel deposed of? Well when someone tells you that you are denied something because you "no longer have the prospect of longevity with the US Army" how are you supposed to feel? This move home was the first time Chaz showed any true frustration with the Army. All he wanted to do was help his family and when he asked for help he was denied. After this situation, I heard my husband say, "I guess you really are a second class citizen once you retire." It truly hurts my heart that any veteran would feel this way and it broke my heart a little to here my favorite veteran actually say that.